Managing Banking Employees Remotely

October 6th, 2020

2020 has spurred a series of changes, most notably the decision by thousands of businesses to manage employees and coordinate operations remotely. The banking industry is no exception. New priorities have forced banks to very quickly adjust to a remote world, where much of their workforce stays home. This was a shift a lot of financial institutions were ill-prepared for, but most have adopted new procedures and best practices to counteract issues with logistics and security.

Employees no longer operate within sight of the bank offices, so banks keep operations insight through technology. Company-issued devices with special protections, such as multifactor authentication, are mandatory. These devices, secured with corporate malware protections and local firewalls, stave off most security incidents. Many banks also use a virtual private network (VPN), which keeps data on a server back at the organization; employees can log in and out of the VPN, but nothing remains on their device.

To further protect bank security and client lists, it is necessary for institutions to educate and train their employees on the use of bank-owned and managed hardware and heightened threats, such as phishing emails and fraud scams. Password security and cyber-hygiene are also important. Some banks employ monitoring tech, which allows them to track and visually monitor employee activity on bank-issued devices. With this comes the need for a remote work policy that outlines for employees the processes and tools needed to do their jobs, as well as the objectives, communication frequency, and transparency of their work.

Traditional banking was for the longest time a physical, in-person platform. In recent years, banks and other lending institutions automated complex tasks, like account openings, loan applications, and money transfers. This year, however, has seen customers flock to digital channels to perform their banking activities, and any bank that did not offer online means before must now hurry to automate capabilities. As a result, employees must be trained and familiarized with the newly automated systems and workflows, so they can handle complex interactions virtually instead of in the office. This, in turn, can create new, trackable actions that help measure productivity.

Managing a remote workforce has other challenges. Supervisors must navigate team responsibilities, identify roadblocks, and keep an open line of communication in a virtual environment. To keep members accountable, banks will likely use more project-oriented performance management approaches. Performance will be managed based on how well a team (or individual) meets project deadlines and expectations, not on their attendance in the office.

It does not appear that remote work is going away anytime soon, but recent studies show remote workers have higher job satisfaction. They have fewer distractions and a greater ability to focus than if they were back at the office. They achieve a work-life balance that was not realized before, and companies see a boost in productivity. For this reason, many banks are reconsidering operations. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, has employees on a rotational schedule. Depending on the type of business, they may work from home two days a week, or one to two weeks a month. Some portions of their workforce may stay remote permanently.

Until conditions improve and the wellness of staff and clients is no longer a guessing game, banks will continue to navigate the challenges of a remote world. Many seem to be doing well at this, investing in software vendors, testing AI, and reconstructing work policies and ethics. It may be, when conditions improve, some banks will be ahead of the industry game and more progressive than ever before.

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